• Connecting Speakers with Audiences™

Five Ways to Prevent Speakers from Exceeding Their Allotted Time

Five Ways to Prevent Speakers from Exceeding Their Allotted Time

Five Ways to Prevent Speakers from Exceeding Their Allotted Time 934 868 I Need A Speaker

By Jeannine Luby, Marketing Communications Consultant

Few things cause event planners as much stress as speakers who exceed their allotted time. An organizer of an all-day civic training was once heard saying, “Oh, I didn’t know Sue was going to share her whole story. We’re already way behind schedule.”

An event organizer should never be surprised by how long a speaker is going or by the content of the presentation. Naturally organizers don’t need to be familiar with the entire presentation, but there should also not be any big surprises.

Five Ways to Prevent Speakers from Exceeding Their Allotted Time

  1. Provide a clear duration, along with details about how the speaker will be notified when their time is almost up. Don’t be vague by saying things like, “You have about 45 – 60 minutes,” or “Go as long as you like.”
  2. Use visual cues like a timer that you place in the speaker’s line of sight.
  3. Employ audio cues, just as celebrity awards events do. Begin music to “play them off the stage.”
  4. Ensure someone is responsible for keeping speakers on track.
  5. Plan breaks to absorb potential over-runs and allow for flexibility.

If the above do not work, consider taking the following more active interventions:

  • Flicker the lights.
  • Wave from the back of the room.
  • Step on stage with a microphone to announce that your speaker has 30 seconds to finish their final point to honor everyone’s time by keeping to the planned agenda.

Most speakers will understand your desire to satisfy your audience with the best possible event.  If you allow one speaker to run long, the entire schedule will be pushed back. That leads to dilemmas like shortening the break time or removing it altogether or asking the next speaker to shorten their presentation.  Both options seem unfair and take value away from your audience.

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Photo source: Canva

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